I Changed My Main Blog!

Hello friends!

For those of you that have subscribed to this blog and have been wondering why it’s been so silent lately, I have moved my main blogging over to Running Shoes and Muddy Paws.

So if you would like to keep up with my on-goings, you’ll want to check that one out!

I might still post random stuff here from time to time, but all of my actual writing effort is going to be taking place at my new site.

Hope to see you there!!!

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…Another Dream About Getting Married?!

I had a dream last night that was similar to my recurring dream where I’m getting married and I don’t want to…or I’m getting married and nothing is right.

Except in last night’s dream I was engaged, but my engagement ring kept on sliding off of my finger. Maybe I was already married in the dream, because there were definitely two rings that I kept on having to slide back onto my finger.

Usually in my recurring dream it’s everyone else wanting me to be married and everything is being done everyone else’s way and I have no say in it and I wake up in a complete panic.

But  in last night’s dream is that I actually WANTED to be engaged (married???) andd it was something that I was all for and really excited about…but I was also nervous to tell my family because they hadn’t met my significant other yet.

My guess as to what this could mean:

I’m desiring to be in an intimate relationship with a certain someone, but I’m afraid of it and not really ready for it yet. I’m also not ready to commit that deeply to this person, or to let him go. Hence the rings sliding off and I keep putting them back on. And in my dream the rings never fully come off of my hand, I keep catching them right before they completely fall off and put them back on quickly.

I guess it can also mean that I really want to start doing what I want to do in life…not what I think others want me to do.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one who only does what other people want, but I do put things on the back burner that I think others would find useless, not worth time, or just plain stupid.

So I woke up feeling really odd from that dream. And my fitbit sleep tracker shows that I was super restless while I slept, so it left me pretty exhausted as well.

Maybe I’ll have a sequel dream tonight with a super mega happy ending…

…Or maybe even a Scooby-do ending…

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Too Long for a Facebook Status…

It’s getting harder to be a forward thinking female and a Christian.

Like many other people, I am upset by today’s ruling by the Supreme Court in favor of companies that do not want to cover birth control for their employees citing “religious freedom.”

Would the supporters be in the same agreement if the owners of the companies weren’t Christian? What if they were Muslim owned companies? Or Jewish? Or Jehovah’s Witnesses?

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg made an excellent point:

“Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”

 

Why does our country value to rights of a corporation over the rights of the people? Or should I say just the rights of women.

As a female, I have heard it time and time again from the church:

“A good woman does this…a good woman doesn’t do that…a Christian woman always…a Christian woman never…”

And now the government has set a precedence  for corporations to do the same thing and penalize those women with dissenting beliefs from theirs.

 

It’s disheartening to sit back and read all of this and realize that I severely dislike the majority of what modern Christianity is.

But what’s confusing is to read the New Testament in the Bible and completely love who Jesus is.

How can one hate the modern version of a religion, but love the root of it?

It feels so imbalanced.

And it’s enraging that in order to be accepted as a Christian today, that I either have to conform to their moral code, or constantly defend my position as to why I’m not conforming.

Is this really what Jesus wanted?

 

(I’ll come back to this later.)

 

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Game Over.

Game Over..

The screen flickered in front of me with small letters in the center…”Game Over: Try again? or Exit?”

I looked around where I was standing. Everything was pitch black except for the old TV in front of me and the controller in my hand. My lungs hurt. My head hurts.

I think I’m bleeding. 

I could taste the pavement in my mouth and the smell of exhaust and burnt rubber remained in my nostrils. I tried to remember how I got there. Was I in an accident? I closed my eyes tightly, trying to kick start my brain.

It’s coming back to me. I think…the last thing I remember was stepping off a curb and looking to my left…and something hit me from the right…there was a noise first…was it a car horn? Was I hit by a car?

Oh God, am I dead? Maybe. But they say you don’t feel any pain after you die…so, am I almost dead? 

I took a moment to look around again. Everything was still black except for the TV screen which seemed to be growing impatient with my lack of a response.

In front of the TV appeared a sheet of paper.

Sweet, someone’s giving me a clue. Is it God? Wait…if I’m dead or almost dead, shouldn’t I be seeing God and a light and be filled with a sense of peace? Hmmm…..

The paper gave simple directions.

“You have to make a choice: Try Again, or Exit?”

Thanks for the help. 

Maybe this is my chance to re-live my life. If I click Try Again, I get another chance to make everything OK. I can right my wrongs, I can plan for the future, I can save more money, maybe go back to school, maybe I could possibly give church another shot and be a decent person. Maybe trying again wouldn’t be so bad.

Does everyone get this choice? Is God just playing with me? Or Is this just that neurotransmitter thing in my brain giving me what I want to see right before I die?

Wait…what if Try Again means that I have to start over in life as a completely different person all together? I could skip all the pain of my past and all the crap I had to put up with and really live a different life, maybe even be successful.

But what about everything that made me, well…me? Would I get to have the same loves again? Would I still get a nice family this time around? Would I still have all the knowledge and talent that I have now? Would I have the knowledge of my former life? What if I envy my former life? Would my heart beat the same? Would the color blue still look like the color I remember it to be? Would music still sound the same? Would I still be a fan of Alice in Chains?  What if I still remembered all of the people in my former life…would I get to hear about how much they miss the old me?

The paper in my hand starts to shake. New words appeared: “You have 1 minute to decide before I decide for you.”

Huh, no pressure at all. 

It would help if I knew what “Try Again” actually meant. 

Do I want to actually try again? Did I even like life when I was in it? Yeah, I think I did. 

I lifted my hand and pointed the controller at the screen. I pressed the button and made my choice.

The darkness started to crumble and beams of light shot through. I squinted as my eyes readjusted to the brightness and my soul felt renewed. The floor shook and then everything was gone.

I have no idea where I am.

I heard someone clear their throat behind me.

I turned around to see who it was and realized I was now in what looked like a private study in an old house. A man sat in a chair with a book in his hand.

“I didn’t expect you to be the quitting type.” He said “Why did you choose what you chose?”

I thought hard for a long time before answering.

“I didn’t quit.” I said “If I would have come back to the same life, I think I would have forgotten that moment in the dark room. I would have talked myself out of it being a significant thing, and forever it would have been just that dream I had on the way to the hospital. I wouldn’t have changed.”

“Interesting…” He replied “What if you would have come back as someone else?”

I thought for a moment and then responded again “I looked at my choices and realized that I had a great life as me. I think that deep down, I would have been heartbroken if I ended up as a different person. Somewhere within me I would remember all the great things that I had in my first life and then compare everything in my new life to that. I think I would have had more regrets and even though the memory of me would have lived on in the lives and minds of others….It would be gone in me. I wouldn’t ever want to forget myself.”

The man looked at me and started to smile “It’s good that you liked yourself that much. I liked you a lot too, I’m glad you’re here.”

“So you’re happy that I chose to exit?” I asked.

“Well,” He started to laugh “I actually didn’t give you a choice…”

Seriously?

“Are you freaking kidding me?!” I half yelled at him “Then why would you even make it look like I had a choice?!”

“You’re surprised by this?” He continued while laughing even harder “With all those odd and inexplicable times in your life, you don’t realize that I really get a kick out of just messing with you? I had to get one last existential crisis in while I still could…you’re quite an amusing person to watch.”

I was floored.

“Wow, you’re kind of a jokester.”

“Welcome to Heaven, kid” He said as he stood up and put an arm around my shoulder. “We have eternity to talk, but there are a few people waiting outside of my door that have been waiting a long time to see you.”

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“Brainstew/Jaded”

“Notice how your thoughts have consequences even if you don’t express of act on them.”

I have a lot of thoughts in my head, like a ton. I’m not saying that these are destructive thoughts. Or crazy thoughts. I just have a lot going through my head at any given point in time. But, I’m getting better at figuring out which thoughts are the productive ones and paying more attention to those. 

Sometimes I pay too much attention to the negative thoughts that rush through and I replay things that I have done or said, or that I will do or say and then I compare them against what I could have done or what could have or should have happened and I get caught up in this seemingly neverending feedback loop, like when you lean a plugged in guitar against an active amp.

I think that’s what doctors call anxiety. 

I can get so worked up when I’m unsure of something. I always prepare for the worst…and then obsess over it until it’s over. Sometimes it gets so bad that I make myself sick to my stomach or end up crying over something that hasn’t even happened yet…or that will never even happen. It sounds ridiculous to people that haven’t had an issue with anxiety, or that can’t empathize with it because it’s pretty irrational.

In the past two years, I’ve been getting better about keeping my anxiety under control. It flares up from time to time, but over all I’ve been progressively working on combating the anxiety by recognizing what triggers it and then logically talking myself back into a rational head space. 

Lately I have added listening to meditation soundtracks while I’m at work to ease my anxiety while trying to get a lot of things done.

I’m a music person. I love music. It inspires me, entertains me, gives me an escape, gives me something to think about.

Stop.

“…gives me something to think about.”

This can become problematic while I’m at work. Most people can listen to music and just listen to it. I get so wrapped up in music that it becomes a distraction to me some days. The melodies, the harmonies, the lyrics, the emotion, the passion, the vocals, the construction of the song itself…all of this goes through my head and I forget what I’m actually supposed to be doing. 

If I don’t have any music playing, I tend to get distracted by what’s going on around me, and then I jump from project to project without making enough progress on one at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I get all of my work done within an acceptable time frame, but I’m not as mentally organized as I should be and I don’t get things done as quickly as I would like (even though the time frame is “acceptable.”)

Resume.

This is where the magic of meditation soundtracks comes in for me…I don’t have the instructional ones, because I think I’d find those annoying and counterproductive, but I do have ones that are calming sounds in nature mixed with light, simple melodies. 

I even got an app on my phone that lets me select and mix my own tracks. It’s phenomenal for someone like me. My favorite mix so far is a thunderstorm with wolves howling and a faint, finger picked guitar track over it. 

It takes me out of my head, away from my intrusive, non-productive thoughts and focuses me on the tasks in front of me. It gives me a feeling of peaceful solitude. There aren’t any lyrics or vocals to pay attention to…it’s pretty much the sound of silence to me. 

I wish I could have something like this for everyday situations. But I guess that’s what self control and coping skills are for. I can’t always throw on the headphones to deal with my thoughts and anxiety. That’s just lazy and irresponsible. 

To bring this all together, my anxiety is a consequence of my thoughts, especially if I’m not expressing them or acting on them. They eat me up inside if I let them, now I just need to keep myself in check and in control. I can’t rely on the quick calm down fixes that I enjoy so much, I need to keep putting the hard work in.

Every day is a battle and when I want to control it, everyday can be a step in the right direction.

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Sorry, Wrong Trajectory.

Being on call for work drives me nuts some times. 

Not because endusers are idiots (they are) or that they call too much for ridiculous things (surprisingly they don’t) but because it leaves me with a lot of time during the week and weekend isolated to my apartment or wherever that has a decent wifi signal and quiet enough to take calls. 

 

I’m an extrovert. I like being around people. I like being around my friends, and when I’m not around, I feel like I’m missing out and that gets me thinking…(me thinking is dangerous for my sanity when I don’t have anyone around to bounce the thoughts and ideas off of.)

 

For the past decade, I really haven’t done anything. I haven’t been anywhere, I haven’t had any significant relationships, I haven’t accomplished anything noteworthy….I just exist. Barely. I haven’t pushed myself to do anything. I keep myself walled off from good things because good things take effort and with effort there is a risk of failure and being hurt. 

 

It’s starting to become a lonely and boring existence. 

 

So what do I value more? Security in knowing that I’m at a base, boring comfort level…or experience and willingness to put myself out there?

 

FYI: This is another rhetorical blog that I’m probably not going to have any answers for for a while. Sorry that I’m not able to expand on my thoughts here, I just needed to get them out of my head so that I can start to work on them. 

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Like a Sinner Repenting…

…I went back to the gym tonight. It was difficult. This was the first time that I have ever felt embarrassed walking into a gym. 

I put my headphones on and stretched for a good 15 minutes before starting my cardio. It gave me time to reflect on myself. My body. My choices. My life. 

And tonight it really felt like I was one of those people in church, crying at the altar and rededicating their life to Christ. But instead I was rededicating my life to myself. I need to get back in control of myself. 

I have my personal demons to fight and it’s easier to win those battles when I’m at the gym and tracking my food intake. 

 

When my body feels good, my mind feels good, and I feel happy. Balanced.

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“…Let it fall, let it rise… Let it be and let it slide…”

I’ve never been good with forgiveness. However, I am quite the accomplished liar, so I can make it look and sound like I’ve forgiven someone, but still hold a lot of anger towards them.

2014 is my year to just try in life. You’d be amazed at how much I can do when I actually try. So I wanted to try actually reconciling with someone who had hurt me deeply in  my past, I wanted to see if I could actually forgive him.

So after a bit of mild facebook stalking, I ended up on his profile. I hovered my mouse over the “Message” option for a bit, and then I finally clicked on it and sent a brief “Hey you came across my mind, I thought I’d say hello” to him.

I figured he wouldn’t even see it, or just delete it, but to my surprise he actually read it and responded. We exchanged pleasantries and then he divulged some personal information that I could have done two things with: Gloat and be a bitch, or Empathize and be the nice person that I’m trying to be.

All the anger that had been stored up in me over the years completely dissolved. All I felt was empathy for him. And in that empathy I remembered the great friendship that we had outside of the bad things that had happened between us. It was then that I completely forgave him.

So often when someone does us wrong, we forget that they’re still a person. We label them as the horrible thing that they did and then shut off that part of our brain that thinks of them all together (or at least that’s what I do.)

This doesn’t change the role that he plays in my story, it just adds the life lessons that were 12 years in the making and fills in some of the gaps.

It feels like another weight that I allowed the universe to place on me has been lifted. I like it.

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“It’s Difficult to Say Goodbye After Only One Life.”

There are many opinions and thoughts on death and grieving the loss of a loved one. The majority of things I can find about it are really lame and almost clinical. It’s either hallmark cards, bible verses, or the stages of grief literature. I prefer to be more real about it.

My previous post here was about the death of my grandmother. My soul is at peace with her passing because she lived such a long and full life. Most people will agree that those kinds of deaths are marginally easier to process. You expect it. You saw it coming. You know that people are at the end of their life when they’re nearing a triple digit age and you brace yourself for it.

The deaths that make us cry with rage and make our stomachs turn are the ones that we never saw coming. Those are the ones that try your faith, wreck your brain, and throw you into a completely different life all together.

How do I have any insight on this at all? Well….

My eldest brother passed away in 2000 when I was 17 and he was 21. He came down with Hemorrhagic pancreatitis out of nowhere.

My Best Friend during my youth passed away in 2003. He wrestled with many demons in his life and overdosed on drugs (not too clear what he was using) and was unable to be revived.

And another very good friend just passed away a few days ago. Once again, an inexplicable overdose.

So lets just say I’ve had a bit of experience dealing with untimely deaths. There are many things that people don’t talk about when faced with these types of things, here are a few of them:

1. (This one was actually told to me by someone who had experienced a great loss themselves, and it helped a lot.) When it’s a close family member that dies unexpectedly, people come out of the wood works with help, support, meals, distractions, stories, photos, and offerings of special treatments…and it lasts for about a month. When those 4 or 5 weeks are up, that’s when the real pain starts. Everyone else has moved on and you’re left trying to adjust to your new life. People are still mindful of your loss, but then you feel really alone because all the distractions have stopped and there’s nothing else to do except try to make the pieces of your life fit back together again.

2. It’s ok to be really pissed off. Or really sad. Or numb. You don’t have to be anything for anyone at this time. You’re allowed to be a train wreck of emotion, or even feel emotionless. We all react differently. The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we “have to be strong for ______.” Totally not true. It’s ok for your family to see you grieve. It’s ok for your children to see you grieve. No one thinks you’re weak.

3. It’s fine to laugh. There is no rule that says “you have to be sad for X number of days, no happiness allowed.” Don’t feel bad for finding things humorous. There were so many times during my brother’s wake and funeral that ended with me laughing my ass off.

4. The first year after they’re gone sucks the hardest. You’re constantly reminded that they aren’t with you.

5. You’ll move on with life, but you won’t forget about this person. We acclimate to things over time, so down the road when you find yourself less sad about not having this person around anymore, don’t feel bad. The first time I set the table after my brother died and didn’t even have to stop myself from grabbing 6 plates and I only grabbed 5, I felt horrible that I didn’t grab 6 to begin with. Like I was perfectly fine with him being gone and that I had forgotten about him. No, I was just getting used to the new pattern of things. It’s impossible for me to forget him…it’s impossible for anyone to forget someone who held a spot in their life.

6. Whether it’s 6 months or 6 years down the road, there are days where you feel like you’re back to square one with your grief. A song that reminds you of them could come on the radio and you’ll be a blubbering mess. You’ll find their favorite sweatshirt in a box and it still smells a tiny bit like them, so you put it on. You’ll find a photo that has a great story behind it and you’ll be wrecked for two hours. Or you’ll be writing a blog post about dealing with death and have to wipe the tears from your cheeks every few minutes. That’s all fine. Don’t feel bad for getting upset about it. There’s not a set time frame for emotions.

7. You don’t have to be poetic and profound when talking about them or their death.

8. My last thought on this (for now) is to have at least one person that you can share anything with about it. Even if you prefer to keep to yourself, having at least one person there makes it easier.

 

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89 Years is a Full and Complete Life.

Today one of my favorite people in the universe passed on to the next life. My grandmother was one of the coolest people that I’ve ever met. And not the definition of cool that we slap on things today. The reason why I think she was so cool is because she was always herself. She had her own great ways of doing things and living life and I really admire her for it.

 

My grandfather, her husband, passed away when I was in 2nd grade. I was in 2nd grade in 1990. My grandmother lived in their house on her own for the past 23 years up until she had a stroke last month.

But still… 23 years of living life independently after the love of her life passed away shows an amazing amount of strength.

She also had a tight-knit group of friends in her life that she spent time with on a regular basis. She was the driver of the group, so she’d pick them up to run their errands, to go to lunch, or to go to church and make the holiday pierogis that were sold to raise money for the church.

Several times she and her group of friends even went on tours and trips to different states or countries. My grandma was someone who really knew how to use and enjoy the time and people in her life.

 

One of my favorite things that my grandma did is she would go ALL OUT for decorating the house during Christmas. She had a raised platform that she’d setup in her living room and put the tree on it with dozens of ornaments. Then all around the tree she’d build an entire village with houses and train tracks with trains, and there would be ponds with little skaters on them and the whole thing would be on mounds of white cotton making it look all snowy and cozy. I’d be mesmerized by it for hours when I was little. Even as a teenager I’d sit down next to it and play with the trains for a bit.

Christmases were great with my grandma. She never got us popular toys and stuff. Her gifts were…interesting. She was such a conventional person that she’d give gifts of stuff that you’d normally buy for yourself in the personal care aisle of the supermarket. My dad and brothers (when they were of age) got cans of shaving cream and razors, and I would get bottles of lotion, Q-tips, and bundles of travel pack tissues. One year she even gave us small cans of Pringles. I’m pretty sure that was the best thing I’ve ever gotten as a present.

And it’s not that she was out of touch or crazy or anything like that. Always within one of the presents, she’d tuck a few fifty dollar bills. Her rules for that money were “Buy something nice for yourself, but you can’t spend this money on gas for your car, booze, or cigarettes.” I may or may not have broken that rule once or twice….shhhh….

 

Another thing that I really looked forward to from my grandma was the yearly birthday cards. They weren’t anything out of the ordinary, just a nice thing to see in the mail from her. One year she even wrote two paragraphs on the inside of it detailing the whole story of why she had to mail it a few days late. And it was really a story about absolutely nothing.

 

My grandma LOVED to talk and tell stories about everything. Even if it wasn’t interesting. She would talk, and talk, and talk to anyone within earshot. In one of our last phone conversations she talked about her favorite lunch that she had that week for a solid twenty minutes. I loved that about her. For anyone who knows me and thinks that I talk too much, my grandma out did me by at least 3 fold.

My grandma gave me a lot of memories that I will forever hold dear. Anyone that knows me, knows that photography is a huge part of my life and who I am. One of my first memories is running around my grandma’s yard when I was about four or five and taking pictures of everything with a purple 110mm camera that I had just gotten. (and then subsequently being bummed out that my pictures didn’t turn out how I wanted.) It was my first camera ever. Years and years  later when I was a senior in high school my parents gave me my first 35mm SLR camera for Christmas. One of the first rolls of film that I shot with it was of stuff around my grandma’s house and yard (and once again I was subsequently bummed out that the photos didn’t turn out how I wanted, new mediums and tools are hard, lol.)

Another thing that I will always remember is the smell of the entry way to my grandma’s house. Since we generally only visited at Christmas time (she lived in Pennsylvania, while my family moved to Minnesota when I was young.) it always smelled like Oranges, cranberries, and fruitcake. She’d keep it all in the huge entry way along with the candy that she’d make every year. (seriously, this candy was the best. Home made peanutbutter cups, chocolate covered chips and marshmallows, and chocolate nut clusters? YES PLEASE.)

When I was a teenager and into my twenties I enjoyed staying up and watching TV with her after everyone else went to bed. She was a bit of a night owl, as am I, and it was nice to just have those little chunks of time with her…even if we were watching the Hallmark movie channel, or a replay of the figure skating program from earlier in the day.

She also taught me a lot about generosity and hospitality. Not because she would sit down and tell me about it, but just with how she was and how she treated others. She always had food prepared, she always made sure everyone had enough, she never wanted anyone else to go out of their way to pay for anything, and she’d even give up her own bedroom so that visiting family members had a bed to sleep in. She always said that she liked to sleep on the couch.

So today the world had to say goodbye to someone who lived one of the fullest lives that I know. 89 years was the perfect amount of time for her and I have no qualms about saying my farewell. I fully believe that she served her entire purpose that her life was created for.

I am proud to be her granddaughter. I am glad that my face resembles hers, and I am glad that I have some of the spark in my personality that she had in hers. She is my inspiration for being a strong and independent woman, and I hope that my life will reflect the completeness and fullness in which hers was lived.

My amazing Grandmother, this was the last photo that I had taken of her in 2011:

My Grandmother

 

 

My favorite photo of myself and my Grandma, taken in 1997:

 

Me and My Grandma

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